Living in Santa Cruz makes getting out for a date night quite convenient. Downtown Santa Cruz has four movie theatres and over fifty eateries in a 10-block stretch. This is not to mention the multitude of bars and other activities available, including DIY pottery and candle-making shops.
For us, downtown is just right out the back door. From the Inn at Pasatiempo it is truly not much farther. A dozen parking lots lie just off Pacific Ave, which serves as the main commercial artery for downtown. Wide sidewalks and dense storefronts make Pacific Avenue perfect for a stroll most hours of the day.
Being so close to the action lets us duck out of the house just 15 minutes before the start of the film. Despite our seemingly late departure, we still manage to stop on the way at Marini’s Candies. Marini’s is a Santa Cruz landmark, opening in their Boardwalk location more than 100 years ago. We stroll past the assorted chocolates and fudges, on past the eat-in counter and an even longer case of ice cream. Our target, as ever, is the large display filled with gummy candies. They sell gummies by the pound here at Marini’s, and after selecting our preferred variety I think we may have been close to that. My lady slips the bag into her purse, where the candy will be safe until after the theater; in which outside food is obviously disallowed. Yes… Nice and safe…
Heading North out of Santa Cruz we still needed to gather up the last few items for our picnic. Just steps off Mission Street, as State Route 1 is called in town, everything we could possibly require lies within a two block radius.
Our first stop is El Salchichero (literally “The Sausage Man”) to flesh out the charcuterie portion of our beach snacks. Among the many smoked and cured selections is my very favorite, the Spanish Chorizo Salami, which I can never pass up. Also worth a try are the Sopressata and Pâté Campagnola. Honestly, I doubt you’d be disappointed by anything that catches your eye.
From here we can make our next two stops without even moving the car. First is Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard to pick up a bottle of their delicious Grenache. They try to tempt us with a tasting but the beach is calling, and our picnic is still missing key elements. Just half a block further is our locally owned grocer New Leaf where we add soft cheese and olives to the basket. Back into the car for one last item. Around the corner is Companion Bakeshop, a locals’ favorite for artisanal bread and pastries. Our picnic needs are simple and we pass over the sweets to pick up two baguettes, a Sweet French and a Seeded.